Orange Township trustees are revisiting a recently approved one-year contract with the Delaware County Sheriff's Office to provide police protection in the township after the county returned the contract with some modifications.

Orange Township trustees are revisiting a recently approved one-year contract with the Delaware County Sheriff's Office to provide police protection in the township after the county returned the contract with some modifications.

New trustee Lisa Knapp, who was sworn in Jan. 3 and is public safety liaison, said during a break at the trustees' Jan. 17 meeting that township legal counsel Mike McCarthy told her that county officials have three concerns with language in the contract.

They want three signature lines for county commissioners removed, they want Knapp to sign the contract and they want a reference to a section of the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) permitting sheriffs to enter into contracts with townships removed.

Another reference to the ORC that permits townships to enter into such contracts would remain in the contract. Knapp said her understanding is that former trustee Nelson Katz, who she defeated in the November election, requested that the signature lines for county commissioners be put in the contract. He had been public safety liaison.

A flap arose last year when a Powell council member suggested that the city look at abolishing the city police department and contracting with the sheriff's office, as Orange Township has done for 10 years.

Opponents to that suggestion pointed out that Orange only pays for about half the cost of contract deputies and the county pays the rest, leading county commissioners to weigh in on the situation.

Knapp suggested during the Jan. 17 meeting that the township remove the signature lines for county commissioners, add her name to the contract and keep both ORC references. "I think it shows a good-faith effort on our part to come to a compromise," she said.

She also said she thinks the former board of trustees rushed the contract through at the end of the year. Trustee chairman Rob Quigley, the only remaining member from last year, said months of discussion were held and he has no real problems with the contract language.

"If commissioners don't want to sign the contract, they don't have to," he said.

Trustee Debbie Taranto, who was elected in November and was sworn in last month after appointed trustee Chris Masciola resigned, said, "I'm not sure I fully understand the ramifications" of the proposed changes.

Quigley, Knapp and Taranto then decided to table the matter until Feb. 6. "The reason being (there's) a lot more behind this," Quigley said. "I just want to verify a few things."

Trustees also briefly discussed a fire levy to be placed on the ballot during an August special election or the November general election.

Collections for the current 5-mill levy, which was approved in May 2009, end in December. Trustees last year twice opted not to place a new levy on the ballot.

Fire Chief Tom Stewart told trustees it appears the township will need $7.5 million a year to maintain the department at current levels. "We're looking at $7.5 million to do what we need to do," Stewart said. "That's the amount we're going to ask for to keep us where we are and allow a little bit of growth."

Knapp said the trustees perhaps should skip the special election and aim for November, which would ensure a much larger voter turnout.

Taranto, Quigley and Stewart said the township should take every opportunity to put the issue before voters. There is no guarantee it would win in November and a spring ballot provides two chances for a levy to be successful, they said. Trustees will discuss the matter again in February.

David Rutter, representing the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, urged trustees to approve a resolution in support of a growth plan to help with future development in the Olentangy River watershed. Orange Township was among 27 jurisdictions to join a watershed group two years ago. MORPC coordinates the group.

A plan focusing on priority conservation areas and priority development areas along the 57-mile-long watershed has been developed by MORPC with the help of the jurisdictions. MORPC wants to take the plan to the state for its approval and is seeking support from the jurisdictions. So far, Rutter said, 13 jurisdictions have issued support for the plan.

Quigley told Rutter he and the two new trustees will further study the plan.

Last year, trustees expressed concern about a draft plan and how it would affect Orange Township's ability to deal with its own zoning and development concerns. Rutter said the state has a Feb. 29 deadline for MORPC to submit a plan.